Graziella Bray FCG

Accomplished lawyer and Company Secretary at APS Bank plc, Malta

The importance of self-belief and allyship

Graziella Bray stands out as a qualified chartered company secretary in Malta, where the role of company secretary is usually filled by lawyers and accountants and is still not considered to be an independent profession in its own right, by certain companies within the corporate sector.

Initially a lawyer by trade, Graziella graduated with a doctorate in law from the University of Malta in 2004, then started her career in the financial services sector.

In her first governance role, Graziella was placed in charge of looking into the incorporation of companies and providing legal advice in a corporate services provider firm. However, after two years she moved to APS Bank, initially into the bank’s legal and compliance unit. There she was employed as a compliance officer and as legal counsel to the bank. Just over ten years later she was nominated to become the company secretary. In 2018 she was appointed as full-time, permanent company secretary, at which point she set up a fully-fledged company secretariat function, with direct reporting lines to the Chair of the board. Graziella is also a board director of APS Funds SICAV plc.

As well as being a hard-working company secretary, Graziella is also the mother of two.

She says her experience as a mother is what first made her appreciate how much childcare support working mothers need – whether provided by the family network or established childcare support centres. She became aware just how much childcare support can help to break the bias in the workplace, allowing women to return to work swiftly if they want to, without losing out in their career trajectory. She recounts how, over recent years, the prohibitive costs of childcare are now being absorbed by the Government of Malta to encourage women return to the workforce. Graziella believes that this vital support is a real enabler for women within the workforce.

She says, 'No woman should think they can do it alone. Childcare support is healthy and it’s essential to seek support and always believe in yourself.'

'At the same time, women should really believe in themselves and not wait for the legislation to change. Internal policy from employers is not the only way to solve the issue.'

When asked if the company she works for has created a pipeline for younger women coming through into senior roles, she says,

'My employer, APS Bank plc is strong on this aspect and has a highly inclusive culture. There is potential for women to participate in various senior roles within the bank, such as sitting on the board and management committees.'

'Focusing particularly on company secretarial roles, some women I’ve worked with have started out via a traditional secretarial role on the committee, directly reporting into the company secretariat function. It’s a good career pathway into governance.'

'While performing this role they can also learn about the bank’s strategy and follow board and management committee meeting dynamics. This broadens their view of their own workplace, moving away from their focused tasks. They learn how to write and document events better.'

Also when discussing board appointments, Graziella doesn’t think that hiring women should be a ‘tick-box’ exercise and she is adamant that appointments should be based purely on qualifications, talent and merit.

When asked what the secret of her success is, she says,

'I never felt that being a woman got in the way of me doing my job, and I always found utmost support form male and female colleagues alike.'

'My driving motto is that you just have to believe strongly in "amor propre" – having a sense of purpose – to get there.'

Graziella Bray FCG

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